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Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse today announced changes to the Government’s New Zealand Residence Programme (NZRP) for the next two years.

“Migrants make a valuable contribution to New Zealand both culturally and economically, and the Government periodically reviews all our immigration settings to make sure they are working as intended,” Mr Woodhouse says.

“While we are confident our immigration settings are working well, the NZRP is reviewed every couple of years to ensure we have the right number and skill mix of people gaining residence.

“As part of that review, today I am announcing a small change to the total number of people gaining residence.

“We will also be making some changes to better manage the Skilled Migrant and Family Categories at a time when demand for gaining residence under these categories continues to grow.”

The changes include:

  • changing the planning range for residence approvals for the next two years to 85,000 – 95,000 (down from 90,000 – 100,000)
  • raising the number of points required for residence from 140 to 160 points under the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC)
  • reducing the number of places for the capped family categories to 2,000 per year (down from 5,500)

“Increasing the points required to gain residence from 140 to 160 will moderate the growth in applications in the Skilled Migrant Category and enable us to lower the overall number of migrants gaining residence.

“Changes to the Family Category, including temporarily closing the Parent Category to new applications, will also reduce the total number of migrants being granted residence.

“Raising the points will also prioritise access for higher-skilled SMC migrants, ensuring we strike the right balance between attracting skilled workers that allow companies to grow and managing demand in a period of strong growth.

“Today’s announcement demonstrates the Government is taking a responsible, pragmatic approach to managing immigration.”

Note to Editors:

The New Zealand Residence Programme (NZRP) sets a planning range for the total number of people approved residence over a multi-year period, and determines the proportion of residence places allocated to the different residence streams in order to balance economic and social benefits.

The NZRP is not a hard cap as within each stream there are both capped and uncapped categories. The three residence streams under the NZRP are Skilled/Business, Family, and International/Humanitarian.

The largest single category is the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) within the Skilled/Business stream, which makes up around half of the entire residence programme. (source :

Immigration New Zealand has also updated this news on

What is the New Zealand Residence Programme (NZRP)?

The New Zealand Residence Programme (NZRP) manages residence approvals and is structured in three streams which reflect the Government’s objectives:

  • Skilled / business – For skilled workers, investors and entrepreneurs (and their immediate family members)
  • Family – For family members of New Zealand citizens and residents. Includes both uncapped categories for partners and dependent children, and capped categories for parents, adult children and siblings
  • International / Humanitarian – To meet international and humanitarian commitments (for example, the Pacific Access Category and refugee quota)

The NZRP provides a planning range which allows flexibility to make fewer decisions at times of lower demand, such as when economic activity is depressed, while setting clear parameters for maximum numbers. The planning range for residence visa approvals for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 financial years is between 85,000 and 95,000.

What has been the trend in residence numbers over the last decade?

Over the last 10 years the number of people approved residence has varied between just under 39,000 and just over 52,000 with the number for most years between 40,000 and 45,000 as detailed in the table below. Immigration New Zealand’s resident visa approvals forecast for the current year indicates that approvals were likely to be over 54,000 if no changes were made to policy or processes – an increase of more than 2,000 on last year’s figure.

Application Stream 2006/07 2007/08 2008/09 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13 2013/14 2014/15 2015/16
Business / Skilled 28,140 27,303 28,547 28,473 23,145 20,431 20,007 22,924 24,274 29,719
International / Humanitarian 4,119 4,138 3,504 2,676 2,766 2,802 3,262 3,369 3,642 4,138
Parent Sibling Adult Child Stream 5,409 5,177 5,100 4,708 5,229 5,708 4,401 6,364 4,810 5,739
Uncapped Family Sponsored Stream 9,296 9,459 8,946 9,862 9,597 11,507 11,291 11,351 10,359 12,456
Grand Total 46,964 46,077 46,097 45,719 40,737 40,448 38,961 44,008 43,085 52,052

You can read the Minister of Immigration’s media release at the following link and read all the information about this change from

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